Game Seventy-Eight Recap: Brewers 7, Phillies 4

TOP PLAY (WPA):  With runners on the corners and nobody out in the sixth inning, Aramis Ramirez lined a 90-mph fastball from Sean O’Sullivan into the right-center gap, which scored two runs and put the Brewers ahead 5-4 (+.209 WPA).

For a lack of a better term, Ramirez has gotten old quickly in 2015. His knee/leg issues over the past couple seasons have rendered him even more immobile than in previous years, which is preventing him from using his lower half to drive the baseball with power. Though things have gotten a little better as of late — a .250/.271/.500 slash line with a .250 ISO in the past 70 PA — he’s still beginning to lose playing time to Hernan Perez.

Still, the 37-year-old pinch hit for Jimmy Nelson — who struggled early, yet again — in the sixth inning and delivered the key blow. In typical Ramirez fashion, he stepped into the box hacking. He got a fastball on the outside corner, something O’Sullivan throws 57 percent of the time to righties on the first pitch, and drove it into the right-center gap. It proved to be an ideal matchup for Ramirez. O’Sullivan doesn’t possess overpowering stuff, nor does he induce many swings at pitches outside the zone. For an aging hitter, A-Ram couldn’t have asked for anything more.

The double put the Brewers ahead by one run and kept the rally moving in the sixth inning. The Brewers would score another run on an RBI-single from Jonathan Lucroy, extending the lead to two. That lead proved sufficient for the victory, as the bullpen shut down the Phillies the rest of the way.

BOTTOM PLAY (WPA):  A few batters after the Ramirez double, Carlos Gomez hit a one-out soft liner to second base, which Cesar Hernandez easily turned into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning (-.092 WPA).

The Brewers loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth, but Adam Lind grounded into a force-out at home. It set the stage for Gomez to step into the box with the bases full and a chance to effectively put the game out of reach. Gomez got a pair of great pitches to hit from De Fratus — a slider on the inner-half and a middle-middle fastball — but the center fielder could only foul them off. He then received another belt-high fastball but couldn’t do more than weakly line it to second base. One imagines Gomez was looking for a slider in that 0-2 count, which left him late to adjust to the 93-mph fastball.

The double play ended the Brewers’ threat and stagnated the lead at just two runs. They were able to extend the lead in the eighth and the bullpen combined to chuck zeros on the scoreboard for the final four frames; however, at the time, Gomez’s double play represented the biggest missed opportunity for the Brewers in the game. A run-scoring hit, a sacrifice fly, a run-scoring groundout — anything like that would have vastly improved the Brewers’ win probability. The 29-year-old center fielder couldn’t capitalize on the poor pitches early in the at-bat and ultimately paid the price.


Jimmy Nelson continues to struggle early in games, particularly with his rhythm and command, but the Brewers managed to stop things from snowballing out of control in the bottom of the third inning.

The right-hander issued a leadoff walk to Ryan Howard, who has been somewhat competent this year (.227/.271/.450). Two batters later, Nelson grooved a 93-mph fastball down the heart of the plate. Cody Asche crushed it off the wall in right-center field, but fortunately, Domonic Brown had to pause at first base to ensure the ball wasn’t caught. That hesitation allowed Braun and Gennett to team up on a throw to the plate, where Lucroy applied the tag in time for the out. Thus, instead of the Phillies scoring their fifth run and putting a runner at second base, the Brewers cut down the run and wiggled out of the inning without any damage being done.


Jonathan Lucroy scuffled in April, prior to his toe injury. Mirroring the broader struggles of the Brewers, he hit a measly .133/.216/.178 in 12 games, causing some fans to panic. Since returning from the DL, though, Lucroy is hitting .279/.315/.356 — much more palatable, but obviously not close to his career numbers. He has nearly cut his strikeout rate (10.8 percent) in half since returning from his injury, and his BABIP has returned to normal.

As the Brewers’ backstop has begun to trend upwards, though, it becomes noticeable that he has lacked any power production. His .067 ISO ranks 22nd-worst in all of baseball among hitters in 2015 who have accumulated at least 100 plate appearances. Guys like Nori Aoki, Dee Gordon, Billy Hamilton, and Daniel Descalso are hitting for more power than Lucroy — which is significantly out of place, given his ISO numbers from the past three seasons: .193, .175, and .164, respectively.

Of course, it’s a small sample size of just 162 plate appearances, so definitive judgments cannot be made. Lucroy also hasn’t had the opportunity to get comfortable this season, as he hasn’t even played for a consecutive month yet in 2015. Still, a couple trends exist that we can watch:

  • His current 47.7 percent ground-ball rate is a career high, which limits his opportunities to hit for power.
  • His average batted-ball velocity is 86.90 mph, which ranks 221st in baseball and is almost identical to Martin Maldonado this season. It ranks below Leonys Martin, who is hitting .222 with five home runs on the year.

Lucroy should bounce back and perform near his career norms, rather than continuing this massive power drop, but it’s obviously a trend to which Brewers fans should pay attention. As the games march on, the sample size is becoming larger and larger. It’s unclear where the tipping point lies, when fans should “legitimately” become concerned about the poor power production. For now, it remains a blip on the radar that should be tracked.


For the second-consecutive start, Taylor Jungmann draws a tough pitching matchup. The Phillies will send Cole Hamels to the mound on Tuesday evening, and while many people have pointed to his 4.32 ERA in the month of June, that’s largely come on the back of a .347 BABIP. His strikeout rate has increased to 26.3 percent in June and his walk rate is lower than it was in April. The problem has stemmed from his 31.9 percent line-drive rate — which indicates that he has likely been getting hit hard by opposing teams. The Brewers will hope to continue that on Tuesday. First pitch is at 6:05 pm CT.

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